Suresh Prabhu Got An Unpleasant Surprise When He Hosted Mamata For Lunch

31/03/2016 12:26 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST
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KOLKATA, INDIA - JANUARY 8: Prime Minister of Bhutan Tshering Tobgay, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu during the inaugural function of Bengal Global Business Summit, at Milan Mela Ground on January 8, 2015 in Kolkata, India. The Bengal Global Business Summit is designed to attract the investor community to the cash-strapped state. During the function, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said, “If Bengal followed such a strong economic growth policy, it would be able to generate jobs and revenue needed to fight poverty, else would have to fall back on shallow political slogans.” (Photo by Ashok Nath Dey/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

NEW DELHI -- This is the story of how Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu didn't end up having lunch with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

The Indian Express reported today on the comedy of errors involving two aides called Tapan Roy and two politicians named Mamata from the All India Trinamool Congress, the ruling party in West Bengal.

When Tapan Roy, secretary to Mamata Thakur, a TMC lawmaker in the Lok Sabha, phoned the landline number in Prabhu's office to set up a five-minute meeting for his boss, he got a call back in 25 minutes.

Prabhu not only granted the appointment, but he cleared his schedule to have lunch with "Mamata" on March 8.

The Indian Express reported on why Prabhu thought he was having lunch with Mamata Banerjee.

Tapan Roy is the name of Mamata Thakur's aide, and also the name of Mamata Banerjee's longtime aide, who was her additional private secretary when she was Railway Minister.

While his aides were ready with talking points, bouquets and garlands, the situation started to unravel just a few minutes before the lunch was to kick off at 1:00 pm at Prabhu's residence.

“We realized something was wrong when someone from the Railway Ministry called to ask when Madame was landing in Delhi,” Roy told the newspaper.

While Thakur and Roy were on their way to Prabhu's residence, someone phoned again to ask if “Madame had arrived in Delhi."

“We asked them if they had made a mistake and were actually expecting the Chief Minister. They said ‘yes’. When I said they were mistaken, they refused to believe me,” he told The Indian Express.

The situation cleared up after Prabhu's aides contacted Mamata Banerjee's officials.

“I told them this was not the way Mamata Banerjee’s appointments are fixed, and they should have known that. For a start, the Resident Commissioner for West Bengal in Delhi would call and one of us would call up the Railway Minister’s private secretary directly. We would not call the Railway Board’s landline number. How could they get confused?” Tapan Roy, the Chief Minister's aide, told The Indian Express.

An angry Prabhu reportedly lashed out at his officials over the goof up.

As is usually the case, the person at the bottom of the chain of command bore the brunt. The telephone operator, who used to receive calls at Prabhu's office, was posted elsewhere, The Indian Express reported.

Thakur's secretary has also been asked to identify himself as Tapan Roy, Jr.

“I have been told to call myself Tapan Roy Junior. But I have engaged in correspondence with the Prime Minister’s Office and sought appointments with the union ministers of HRD and Home for the MP, but never faced such a situation,” he told The Indian Express.

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